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Tips to Boost Emotional Health During the Pandemic: Q&A with Tiffany Pippen, MA, LCSW

April 16, 2021

Family caregivers were hit hard by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has wreaked havoc on lives, piling unforeseen hardship and heartbreak on top of already significant caregiving responsibilities.

On Wednesday, April 28, at 11 a.m. – noon (Pacific Time), Tiffany Pippen, MSW, LCSW, will host an FCA webinar called “Tips to Boost Emotional Health During the Pandemic.” In this discussion, caregivers will learn self-care practices to better manage life and responsibilities during these challenging times.

Tiffany Pippen is a licensed clinical social worker, practicing psychotherapist and former FCA Family Consultant. She has more than a decade of experience working with children and families around issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, and family caregiving issues.

We checked in with Tiffany to find out more about what she’ll be sharing in this timely discussion. Here’s what she had to say.

Quote and photo of Tiffany

What hardships have family caregivers struggled with most during the last year? 

Everyone is juggling multiple responsibilities. Managing responsibilities at work is challenging, especially if caregivers have children. Making sure kids are taken care of and meeting educational goals while caring for a family member or friend has been a struggle.

What are some of the most effective practices and strategies you recommend for addressing stress?

First, creating a plan for the following day can reduce stress. Outline your routine, including telehealth appointments, your children’s schooling, work or personal calendar items, and so forth.

Second, establish a calming bedtime routine—something that triggers relaxation, like a hot cup of herbal tea, a shower or bath, doing some writing, reading, etc. Some of my clients like aromatherapy, which involves using aromatic essential oils like tea tree or lavender in a diffuser. This can create a relaxing, spa-like vibe in your space.

These are inexpensive ways to create relaxation and de-stress.

What resources are available to family caregivers that help maintain mental health and finding balance?

Caregiver support groups can make a world of difference. There are groups that meet online you can find through FCA. It’s part of the advocacy work they do.

Individual therapy can also be very helpful, if you need help processing your emotions and problem solving. An individual therapist who specializes in family caregiving can be especially beneficial, since they understand the challenges as well as what resources you might need. FCA has a therapist referral network if you need help finding a therapist suited to your needs. Caregivers who are interested in learning more can start by calling FCA at (415) 434.3388.

In your own work with family caregivers, what were you seeing that made you realize people needed a discussion about this?

I have friends who are now in a family caregiving role. I’m in my late 30s, and friends around the same age are balancing family caregiving with their careers and children. Learning how to navigate these responsibilities has been tough.

What is the most notable mental health effect of COVID that caregivers may not be aware is affecting them?

Depression and anxiety are definitely a factor. Family caregivers may not have a lot of friends involved in caregiving, so not having someone to talk to about what’s going on can feel very isolating. People often don’t notice the depression or anxiety that’s building and don’t know how to navigate all of it.

What should caregivers do when they realize they feel isolated and unsure what to do about their caregiving role?

If they don’t already, they need to ask for help. Whether from a neighbor, family friend, professional support, or assisted living if that’s needed—this is not something you do in isolation. Draw upon your resources, do research, ask questions. I do believe knowledge is power.

What particular knowledge can benefit new family caregivers?

It’s important to learn what you can about the healthcare system, Medicare, and dementia if that’s impacting your family member or friend. Do your own research and ask for help finding the information you need. Get help processing the challenges you face as a caregiver, especially if this happens suddenly and you don’t have time to plan. It’s so important to have support.

How do you see mindfulness playing a role during this time?

I’m a big advocate for mindfulness, which is different from meditation. It can be done any time and is easy to incorporate into life on a daily basis. It simply means slowing down and taking a moment to focus on your breath. You can do it on your own and when you see fit, whether it’s drinking your coffee, going to bed, or some other task.

Family caregivers have so much going on. There are so many responsibilities, it’s easy to go on auto pilot. Taking a moment to be with your breath and be present with whatever you’re doing is an excellent self-care practice.

Learn more

Sign up for the free webinar”Tips to Boost Emotional Health During the Pandemic,” which will be led by Tiffany onWednesday, April 28, 11 a.m. – noon (Pacific Time).

For more information about how family caregivers can take care of their needs, visit the section of our site dedicated to this topic.

For information about how to care for a family member or friend, visit the Caring for Another section of our site.